American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud to children from birth
Posted on 06.25.2014, Wednesday

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced yesterday that it will begin issuing the recommendation that parents should read aloud to their children from birth. This is the first time the Academy has officially weighed in on early literacy education. This new policy is part of a collaborative effort of the AAPToo Small to FailScholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development.

There are only 2,000 days between a child’s birth and the time that child enters kindergarten, and 90% of brain development happens in those first five years. Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, and reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.

But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies show that by age 3, children from more affluent families are exposed to 30 million more words than children from families receiving public assistance. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school.

The AAP hopes to close this gap by asking its 62,000 members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud by encouraging parents each time they visit their child’s doctor to read early and often.

According to the AAP, the effort takes a multi-pronged approach toward equipping parents with the best tools to ensure that their children are prepared to learn and ready to enter school:

  • Too Small to Fail and the AAP will share messages across their networks and media platforms about the importance of talking, reading out loud and singing to children from birth in order to build vocabulary and promote healthy brain development.
  • To jump start the partnership, Scholastic has donated 500,000 new, age-appropriate children’s books for distribution through Reach Out and Read, the non-profit organization that works with 20,000 medical providers nationwide to promote early reading and give books to families at pediatric visits.
  • Reach Out and Read will also distribute a toolkit to be developed by the AAP, with support from Too Small to Fail, which will equip pediatricians with resources to educate parents on how to use everyday activities to improve communication with their infants and toddlers.

To read more about the AAP’s recommendations, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.